3G versus 4G

In this mobile age, data is one of the most important elements of a mobile phone deal. The higher the data, the faster your connection. 3G and 4G technology are dominating the telecommunications marketplace right now, but which is better for you?

What is 3G?

3G is a mobile data connection that first became available in the UK in 2003. It’s an abbreviation of “third generation”, meaning it’s the third type of data technology the mobile phone world has access to. 

After the first and second generations (1G and 2G) could no longer support our demands, 3G data was developed. This was the first time it became easy to use the internet while travelling, as users could access apps and websites reliably across the country. 

While it is technically slower than 4G as an older form of technology, it is still fast enough for most day-to-day services, capable of download speeds of up to 7.2Mbps. 

Some older mobile phones will only support 3G, so depending on the handset you choose, this may be your only data option. 

All mobile networks offer 3G on their devices, but if you think you’re in need of faster broadband speeds, you might want to opt for a deal with 4G data included. 

What is 4G?

First rolled out in the UK in 2012 by EE, the “fourth generation” of data technology quickly became a dominant force in the marketplace. 4G is typically faster, smoother, and less disruptive than 3G, though it may soon be overtaken in popularity by the “fifth generation”. 

3G still remains the ‘backup’ behind 4G phones. Sometimes you could be in an area where 4G can’t get signal, so your phone will fall back on to 3G, which is more universally available. 

You can use our coverage checker to find out if your area is covered by 4G. 

What is the difference between 3G and 4G?


According to Ofcom, 4G is between 5-7 times faster than 3G technology, and capable of speeds up to 60mbps (at least on our network). This means that if you’re browsing the web, streaming videos, or downloading music, they will all work much faster if you’re connected to 4G over 3G. 

Voice calls

Having 4G on your phone automatically enables VoLTE (Voice over LTE), which is the ability to make phone calls over 4G data. This leads to higher quality calls that are less glitchy, given your signal is adequate. 


As 4G is a more advanced and faster form of technology, it can be more expensive. It works at a much higher speed than 3G, using more advanced processes than its predecessors. However, now that 4G is more widespread across mobile networks, we can offer great bundles with 4G internet at no additional cost. 


Phones that were built before 2010 are usually not compatible with 4G, so you might want to check your handset’s ability to connect with 3G or 4G data before purchasing. If you have an older phone and want 4G data for downloads or streaming, then it might be time for an upgrade. 

4G Network Coverage

EE’s 4G network covers 99% of the UK population as of June 2020, and provides the fastest speeds compared to its competitors. 

EE’s 3G availability is actually slightly lower, covering 98% of the population, but this is not a drastic difference. 

What is 5G?

The “fifth generation” (5G) technology was launched by EE in the UK at the end of May, 2019. It’s much faster than the previous generations of data, but not as widespread as of yet. 

Of course, it’s not all about speed. 5G technology has a greater capacity to deal with multiple devices connecting at the same time, and a reduction in latency so there are less delays between asking and performing an action. 

If you don’t think 4G is fast enough for your download and streaming needs, you can learn more about 5G


If you’re thinking of buying a 4G data plan, you can browse Asda’s monthly bundles and pick up a great deal today! 

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